FIELD EDUCATION

Welcome to the field education page of Georgia State’s School of Social Work. This site is designed to facilitate the field education experience for all those involved– students, field supervisors, task supervisors, and faculty liaisons. It also provides useful information for prospective students, field supervisors, and field agencies/organizations.

Field education at Georgia State is organized and implemented as a partnership between the educational community and the practice community in training future social work practitioners. Within this partnership, there are three key people to the success of the field education experience: the student, field supervisor, and faculty liaison. First is the student, who possesses the willingness and desire to observe, learn, take action, and reflect. The student’s professional development is guided and nurtured by the field supervisor whose role as teacher is pivotal in the student’s evaluation of self as an emerging professional social worker. The faculty liaison’s role is to provide ongoing support and information to the student and the field supervisor. Communication among all parties is critical in meeting the objectives of field education and maintaining a healthy partnership. Ongoing feedback is welcomed from all parties.

A field education advisory board of community practitioners offers continued input as well.
This advisory board of experienced practitioners provides guidance and expert knowledge in field education and enhancing the partnership between the School’s field education office and community agencies/organizations.

Thank you for your interest in field education for social workers. If you are in need of additional information after browsing this site, please contact me.

Dr. Renanda Wood Dear
Director of Field Education
(404) 413 – 1057
rwood@gsu.edu

The Director of Field Education is responsible for the overall administration of the field education component for the School of Social Work. This involves working with field supervisors, faculty members, and students. Tasks include placing social work students in field sites; establishing student orientation to field; setting field policies, procedures, and standards; developing all forms from the student application process to the student evaluation process; creating field seminar materials; evaluating and maintaining field placement sites; coordinating and consulting with faculty liaisons; providing orientation and training to field supervisors; and maintaining accreditation standards for field education. Our goal is to create educational partnerships with community agencies/organizations that afford outstanding experiential opportunities for all involved parties.

The Director of Field Education chairs the Field Education Advisory Board. The purpose of the advisory board, comprised of field supervisors, is to strengthen the link between social work education and community-based social work practice by providing an ongoing opportunity for field supervisors to have input into the field education component of the social work curriculum. The advisory board holds formal meetings and communicates as necessary through e-mail. Any changes, recommendations, or field concerns from students, faculty, and field supervisors are addressed at advisory board meetings.

The field director represents Georgia State University in the Field Education Collaborative, which is comprised of social work field directors from other educational institutions. The purpose of this Field Education Collaborative is to identify and engage in collaborative activities in order to strengthen the relationships between the schools and the community. The goal is to combine the schools’ resources in providing effective and efficient field education services and training opportunities to all field sites and field supervisors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Field education offers the social work student an opportunity to apply classroom learning in an agency-based supervised field experience. The field education courses at both the undergraduate (BSW) and graduate (MSW) levels consist of two components: (1) the field placement experience and (2) the field integrative seminar. The field placement is the agency site where the student engages as an intern under professional supervision. The field integrative seminar, facilitated by the faculty liaison, provides an on-campus forum for the integration of academic learning with agency-based field placement.

The BSW and 1st-year MSW students are required to complete a minimum of 400 hours of field education over two semesters. These students are at the field placement site for 16 hours per week (two full days, excluding lunch). The 2nd-year MSW students are required to complete a minimum of 500 hours over two semesters spending 18 hours per week (three days) at the field site.

BSW classes are scheduled on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, leaving Tuesdays and Thursdays for field placement. MSW classes are scheduled on Tuesdays and Thursdays, leaving Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays for field placement. The student’s agency schedule must be discussed and approved by the field supervisor. Also, there may be certain days/times when the field supervisor requests that the student be at the field site (e.g., agency meetings, special events). This can be arranged depending on the student’s class schedule. Please note that a student may not miss classes to be at the field site.

BSW and MSW students apply to participate in the field education class. This application includes a student’s resume and requires payment for seminar materials and professional liability insurance. The field education application is online. https://aysps.wufoo.com/forms/school-of-social-work-field-application/

The fees cover the materials for the field education seminar class and professional liability insurance. These fees do not cover the field education text book or other required materials. Students must purchase new materials each year. Fees are not refundable.

In the application, there is a question addressing special circumstances. Also, there is a confidentiality/personal/professional form to submit immediately after the application is submitted (https://aysps.wufoo.com/forms/social-work-personal/). Please include any information that should be considered for success in field.

Students who note special circumstances should make an appointment to meet with the Field Education Office personnel. Dr. Renanda Dear, Director of Field Education, rwood@gsu.edu.

After the field application is submitted it will be processed and the student will receive a field assignment email with your agency assignment. Students should not solicit agencies or negotiate their own placement site. Agencies must be approved by the Field Education Office.

The Field Education Office reviews the student application, including where they live and social work interests, as well as the agency/organizations location and services to make the best match. Agencies are constantly changing and are evaluated annually.

Potential field sites must identify a contact person to complete the Social Work Field Site Information Form and read over the responsibilities of both field agencies and field supervisors. The field director will review the completed application and approve a site visit. Most of these visits are scheduled in the late fall. Applications received during the year will be held and contact will be made prior to scheduling these late fall visits.

Occasionally, a student may do field placement at the place of employment. However, in these instances the internship tasks, responsibilities, and supervision must be completely separate from the student’s work responsibilities and supervision. This arrangement must be discussed with and approved by the field director. A student cannot do two worksite placements. Please read the policies for more information.

Once a student is assigned to a field practicum site, the student will need to call the agency contact to schedule an interview. Different agencies have different processes to accept the student. Some agencies conduct formal, group interviews and some agencies are much more informal. Writing samples are routinely requested. Students should be prepared for all situations. At the interview, students should be dressed professionally, presented as courteous and have resume and the interview tracking form in hand. (http://socialwork.gsu.edu/files/2014/05/INTERVIEWTRACKINGFORM2013.pdf). There is also pre-placement interview questions listed online.

Increasingly agencies are requiring background checks. Students should be prepared for both situations. Ideally, background checks should be completed prior to the placement starting date.

Please bring your resume, interview tracking form and the pre-placement interview questions.

Please see the Georgia State University’s career planning office.(http://aysps.gsu.edu/career/career-planning)

Field seminar classes start in August. Field education hours typically start in September. Field hours cannot start over the summer.

It is preferred for the interview tracking form to be completed during the interview and the student to return it the Field Education Office. However, the student is welcome to leave the form with the agency contact. Either way, it is the student’s responsibility to complete the process and confirm the supervisor returns the form to the Field Education Office. Students are encouraged to advised Field Office that the agency supervisor has not returned the form immediately following the interview. The forms can be returned via mail (please keep a copy), email or fax.

If the student decides not to accept, or is denied, a placement, the student must discuss options with the field director.

A student who is rejected for placement by three agencies in one semester for reasons related to inappropriateness (i.e. behavior, attitude) or lack of readiness for placement may be dismissed from the program.

The field supervisor is the agency person who provides the student with on-site supervision. This person is responsible for providing weekly supervision and evaluating student performance. Some students may be assigned to work with task supervisors as well. However, the student is accountable, first and foremost, to the field supervisor, who directs the learning experience in field.

The faculty liaison is the assigned faculty person responsible for providing the communication link between the School of Social Work and the field placement site. The liaison monitors the overall placement experience through agency visits and facilitation of the field integrative seminars. The liaison is responsible for assigning the final field education grade.

We no longer use a written field education manual. Become familiar with the School of Social Work’s website. There is a dedicated area for “field education.”
Application Process

Students must apply for enrollment in field education.  Students are not expected to apply for field until after the orientation. The field education sequence begins in the fall semester only. There are no summer or block field placement opportunities.

As part of the application process, students are asked to choose three possible area of interest. Once all the completed applications are received, the Director of Field Education makes contact with each student to discuss possible placement sites, special interests related to placement and special needs. The Director of Field makes the initial contact with the potential placement site and the student sets up an agency interview. If a student has not met entry requirements for field education, the student is denied placement but may reapply at a later date. A students who is rejected for placement by three agencies for reasons related to appropriateness (i.e. behavior, attitude) or readiness for placement may be dismissed from the program.

Instructions
Fill in the information on the application.

Application Form

Online Form.

Field Education Policies & Procedures

The School of Social Work recognizes that many students work full-time while attending school. In an effort to be responsive to this situation, the School offers the opportunity for students to develop and submit a proposal to have their place of employment serve as an employment-related field placement. The following policies and procedures must be followed:

  1. A student can have only ONE employment-related placement for BSW/MSW field education credit, i.e., 1st-year: MSW foundation OR 2nd-year: MSW Community Partnerships concentration. Advanced-standing students cannot have employment-related field placements for both the BSW and MSW field placements.
  2. A student cannot use one’s current position and tasks for the field placement. The field intern position and tasks must be different. In addition, the field supervisor cannot be the same person as the student’s work supervisor.
  3. A student must submit a proposal to the Director of Field Education by the due date as determined by the field director. This proposal must include:
  4. Description of current position and job tasks
  5. Contact information for work supervisor
  6. Description of proposed position and related job tasks as a field intern in your place of employment (use the appropriate IPP to inform your response)
  7. Describe how you will complete the required weekly field placement hours over the two semesters. Some deviation may be approved using the December break, spring break, etc. to complete the required hours.
  8. Contact information for proposed field supervisor
  9. Acknowledgement from the proposed field supervisor that he/she is able to supervise the student and agrees to all field supervision requirements and responsibilities (on School’s website)
  10. Each proposal will be reviewed and evaluated on a case-by-case basis. The Director of Field Education will make the final decision in each case.
  11. The agency/organization must agree to the field placement site responsibilities and sign the School’s affiliation agreement (memorandum of understanding).

All inquiries re: employment-related field placements should be directed to the School’s Director of Field Education.

BSW and 1st-year MSW students are expected to complete a minimum of 400 hours over the course of the two academic semesters. With delayed entry into fall field placement, it is expected that students will complete at least 160 hours during the fall semester (approximately 16 hours over 10-11 weeks).  Students will complete a minimum of 240 hours during the fifteen-week Spring semester.

2nd-year MSW students are expected to complete a minimum of 500 hours over the course of the two academic semesters. In the Fall, these students complete approximately 250 hours followed by a minimum of 250 hours during the Spring semester.

Scheduling Hours:
BSW and 1st-year MSW students usually complete the required 16 hours/week field placement in two full days (lunch not included in the hour count).  2nd-year MSW students complete the required 18 hours/week field placement scheduled over three work days (not a two day/week schedule). The student and field supervisor must discuss and agree to the student’s weekly schedule based on both the student’s and the supervisor’s needs/tasks. Classes and field seminar cannot be missed to attend field placement.

December Hours:
All students should be off the week that GSU is closed for the December holidays – they are not expected to be in placement when the University is closed. Students should return to their respective field placement sites once the spring semester begins in January (check the academic calendar for start date). The School acknowledges there may be work that needs to be accomplished in the field agency requiring the student's presence once fall semester is completed. However, there are limits to a student continuing his/her placement in between the semesters. Upon completion of the fall semester field placement hours, the student can work for a maximum of 25 hours total in December (to be agreed upon by both student and field supervisor) and such hours can be counted towards spring semester hours.  Students should not be working 16 hours per week – their December hours should reflect the time needed to provide continuity in assigned tasks or responsibilities (e.g., case management, group facilitation, holiday project, fundraising event). If the student or field supervisor is unclear about December field placement hours, the faculty liaison should be consulted.

NASW Student Lobby Day:
The School supports the professional development of social work students and their identification with the profession. Georgia NASW sponsors Student Lobby Day (usually held in February). Students are encouraged to attend this event and, if it falls on the same day as the student’s field placement day, field supervisors are encouraged to allow the student to attend. The field supervisor has the choice to require that the student make up the missed field day or give credit to the student to use lobby day as an approved field day. If the supervisor approves it as a field day, the student should provide a written or oral report, reflection, analysis, etc. of his/her lobbying experience, lessons learned, and application to the field site.

Occasionally there are situations in the field setting that cannot be resolved satisfactorily between the student and the field supervisor. In these instances, the faculty liaison should be contacted immediately. The faculty liaison is available to assist when problems arise as identified by either the field supervisor or the student. If needed, a meeting is arranged with the faculty liaison, student, and field supervisor. If the situation continues to persist, the director of field education may become involved.

Sometimes miscommunications, misunderstandings, and nervousness can interfere with the student’s ability to conform to professional practice. Therefore, early recognition and ongoing, open communication between the field supervisor, the faculty liaison, and the student is critical.

The social work profession has become increasingly concerned about the safety and security of social work practitioners in the workplace.  Work-related violence against social workers may include physical and/or verbal assault, the threat of assault and harassment.  Such concern about workplace violence also draws attention to the safety and security of social work students placed in field placement settings.

Field sites should have policies and procedures dealing with safety and security issues for all personnel.  These safety and security policies and procedures need to be a part of the student’s site orientation.  However, if this information is not formally presented, the student must initiate discussion of such policies and procedures with the field supervisor.  Every effort must be made to reduce potential risk in field settings.  Safety and security issues to be addressed with the student include:

  • office and facility security (e.g., interviewing rooms, emergency exits, disaster plan,
  • parking areas, before and after hours work);
  • in-house emergency procedures for summoning security, police, and backup assistance;
  • policies and procedures for home and community visits (e.g., when, where, with
  • another worker or escort, under what conditions a visit should or should not be made,
  • emergency backup plans);
  • transporting clients (e.g., personal car, agency vehicle, insurance and liability, when, where, with another worker, under what conditions would an intern be given this assignment);
  • assessing and handling agitated and/or violent clients (e.g., de-escalation techniques,
  • physical restraint of clients, treating clients with a history of violence); and
  • potential risks and safety issues unique to a particular setting and/or client population.

The field supervisor should discuss with the student any activities that may require special planning with regard to safety.  An understanding should be reached between the student and field supervisor, with input from the faculty liaison, about what constitutes “high risk” or “dangerous” assignments.  If the student refuses to accept what may be described as a dangerous assignment, this should be discussed with the faculty liaison.  The student has the right to refuse a dangerous assignment and his/her safety should not be compromised.

If a student is threatened or injured in placement, or is involved in an incident where one’s safety may be compromised, the faculty liaison or field director should be notified immediately.

See information on developing a comprehensive safety plan written by the Committee for the Study and Prevention of Violence against Social Workers, National Association of Social Workers, Massachusetts Chapter.

The field placement is a critical component of the student's development as a professional social worker, particularly as it reflects the student's ability to internalize academic course content and to combine professional knowledge and skill with a professional demeanor appropriate for practice. The student must maintain a professional demeanor that separates personal problems/issues from practice in order to engage successfully in one's professional responsibilities to clients, the agency, and the community. Should a student's personal problems, psychological well-being, lack of maturity or lack of learning readiness in the student intern role impair the student's field performance and responsibilities to clients, the agency, and/or the community, the field supervisor and the faculty liaison have the responsibility to intervene.

The following criteria will be used to determine the basis of professional competence in field education:

Field placement experience: The agency field supervisor, the faculty liaison, and/or the Director of Field Education’s evaluation of the student will be reviewed. Concerns around the student’s professional competence may arise due to the student’s inability to: (1) establish and maintain positive and constructive interpersonal relationships with clients and field supervisors, (2) poor performance in the field (see mid-semester and final evaluation criteria), and/or (3) lack of professional demeanor.  Any of these concerns will be assessed within the developmental framework of the student’s progress through his or her social work education and experiences.  Lack of professional demeanor may be evidenced by the student’s:

  • Lack of commitment to professional growth and development
  • Tardiness or absenteeism at the field placement
  • Failure to adhere to agency policies, standards, and guidelines
  • Lack of appropriate professional dress and appearance
  • Failure to enact appropriate behaviors with clients
  • Failure to meet project/task/assignment deadlines
  • Inability to accept constructive feedback from the field supervisor
  • Failure to exhibit maturity or learning readiness
  • Failure to maintain professional boundaries
  • Failure to exhibit ethical behavior

Lack of professional competence as exhibited in the student’s performance in field education may result in a lower grade or possible dismissal from the program.

Additional criteria that may be used to assess a student’s professional competence and lead to an academic review by the School’s Professional Review Committee include:

  • Academic performance: Failure to meet the minimum academic standards set by the University, the College, and the School.
  • Unprofessional behavior or ethical misconduct: Failure to comply with the ethics, values, and principles of the social work profession as defined by the NASW Code of Ethics; exploitation of clients, engaging in sexual activities with clients; participation in dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation; and/or involvement in illegal activities (conviction of a felony, breaking the law, specific criminal behavior such as trafficking in and/or possession of drugs).
  • Inability to function within the role of a student: Inappropriate classroom behavior (disruptiveness, tardiness, inattentiveness, behaviors that undermine the work or morale of faculty and students).  The student demonstrates an inability to accept feedback and effectively utilize the problem solving process.
  • Negative attitude: Demonstrates a negative attitude/lack of enthusiasm toward the social work program, the social work profession, and/or the field placement, to such a degree that it impairs the student’s ability to actively participate in the learning experience.
  • Personal problems: This may include either physical, emotional, or life-related problems that interfere with a student’s ability to meet both the academic and professional standards and requirements and/or raise questions about suitability for profession.
  • Failure to comply with the policies and procedures of Georgia State University and/or the College of Health and Human Sciences and/or the School of Social Work and/or the field placement agency.

For a student who does not maintain professional standards or whose personal problems/issues present obstacles in maintaining professional standards, that student may be removed from placement and receive a failing grade for field education.  In such situations, the student may be denied another field placement and dismissed from the social work program.  Depending on the circumstances for dismissal, a student suspended from field education may be allowed to re-enroll only at such time when he/she demonstrates to the satisfaction of the faculty an appropriate commitment to the demands of and expectations for the field education experience.  If the recommendation is to remove a student from field education, this recommendation must be presented to the Director of Field Education, BSW Program Director, School of Social Work Director, and to the School’s Professional Review Committee for a final decision.

The School of Social Work requires that all M.S.W. students have professional liability insurance while enrolled in social work field education. Students pay a fee to the School for the purchase of a group liability policy taken out by the College of Health and Human Sciences that covers all student interns and faculty liaisons for two semesters in field placement. Any student not paying the fee for professional liability insurance will not be allowed to start field placement.

It is strongly recommended that social work students have personal health care insurance. Through the Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the University offers an optional “Accidental Injury and Post Exposure” insurance plan for students in internships. This insurance is purchased by the student directly from the company. The Director of Field Education has copies of this policy along with enrollment forms. This insurance is purchased by interested students directly from the company. Students are urged to compare their health insurance coverage with the optional accidental injury and post exposure policy.

The University, and most agencies, do not have “personal property” insurance coverage for students. The student is responsible for personal items (e.g., cellular telephone, laptop computer) brought to the field agency. If using a personal car, the student should check his/her car insurance regarding coverage for damage.]

In meetings with the field director prior to field placement or during the field placement seminar with the faculty liaison, a student may choose to share personal information that is deemed “sensitive.”  This may include such personal matters as a felony or misdemeanor, mental health diagnosis or treatment, substance abuse history, chronic illness, disease, physical disability, or learning disability.  “Sensitive” information may also include problems in classroom performance or in a previous field placement.

In response to the sharing of student information, one must address maintaining the privacy rights of a student, while at the same time protecting the welfare of clients served in a field site, supporting the field site’s right to make an informed decision in accepting a student for placement, and allowing the school to make an educationally-sound placement selection.  A student’s permission to share sensitive information should always be solicited.

In the attempt to balance these competing demands, each student situation must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.  The following factors shall be considered in the decision to share sensitive student information between the school and the field site:*

  1. student’s permission to share information
  2. information is labeled confidential
  3. potential effect(s) on clients being served at the field site
  4. relevance of student’s personal matter to field of practice
  5. timeframe (current or past) of the student’s personal matter
  6. severity of the student’s personal matter
  7. field supervisor’s right to know
  8. field site’s human resources policies/requirements
  9. “reasonable accommodations” as required under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  10. disclosure of student information as defined in the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA)

It should be noted that field sites might require a prospective student to be processed like
a new employee, which can include background checks, fingerprinting, and/or medical tests (e.g., TB test) as prerequisites for acceptance as a student intern.

[*Adapted from:  Reeser, L.C. & Wertkin, R.A. (1997).  Sharing sensitive student information with field instructors: Responses of students, liaisons, and field instructors.  Journal of Social Work Education (Spring/Summer), 347-362.]
Students are expected to prepare appropriately for weekly supervision. This means following the guidelines and standards set forth by the field supervisor as well as those set by the School.  As the student progresses through the field placement, it is expected that he/she will take on increasing responsibility for the content of the supervisory sessions by creating a written agenda for each session.  Created by the School’s Field Advisory Board, the following guidelines for writing an agenda offer a wholistic approach to assist the student with integration of classroom knowledge and practice application and to focus on processing the field experience.  The student and field supervisor should discuss ways to operationalize these guidelines.  The student’s supervisory agenda should include these five sections:

  1. Items related to past social work, or related, coursework and work experiences
  2. Items related to current coursework and classroom learning (e.g., at the beginning of each semester, bring copies of course syllabi to the field supervisor)
  3. Items related to mid-semester or final evaluation instruments
  4. Items related to field placement (both task- and process-focused)
  5. Additional Items
The University and the School of Social Work do not allow any social work intern to transport any client, family member, significant other, etc. Some field agencies request the social work student to transport clients because it is suggested that this task provides an opportunity to have one-on-one time with the client(s). While this may be true, even when the agency is willing to add the student as an approved driver to its insurance policy and provide an agency vehicle, transporting clients is still prohibited. Both the student and the field supervisor (as representative of the agency) must abide by this policy.
Thank you for your interest in becoming a field placement site for our students! The school utilizes community agencies for students in both the undergraduate (B.S.W.) and graduate (M.S.W.) programs. Below you will find information on the selection process as well as resources for requesting student interns.

Future Field Site Downloads
Social Work Field Site Information Form
Student Intern Request Form

The School of Social Work seeks to develop and maintain affiliations with community sites that provide quality field education for all social work students.  The School has a commitment to provide relevant and appropriate practice experiences.  The first year placements represent those settings that offer a generalist practice focus for foundation students.  The second year placements represent agencies, organizations, and corporations that offer opportunities to engage in community partnerships.  The Director of Field Education, social work faculty, or an agency representative may initiate the process for agency selection as a field placement site.  The field director has the responsibility to evaluate the potential of each setting as an available and appropriate field education site.  Students do not negotiate their own field placement sites.

Each active field agency must have a current signed memorandum of understanding (MOU) on file.  This memorandum outlines both the field agency and the university’s responsibilities regarding internships.  The signed MOU covers a three-year period and may be renewed at three-year intervals throughout the course of the ongoing internship arrangement between the agency and the university.

The following criteria are used in the selection of field education sites:

  1. The field site must be committed to upholding social work values and ethics as outlined in the profession’s Code of Ethics of the National Association of Social Workers and be committed to culturally competent practice in addressing diversity as set forth NASW’s Standards for Cultural Competence in Social Work Practice.  The Code of Ethics and Standards for Cultural Competence should be demonstrated through agency policies and procedures that support program design, service delivery, and professional training.
  2. The field site must be able to provide diversified learning experiences for students that are consistent with the School’s field education objectives as appropriate to the foundation and/or the concentration field placement.
  3. The field site should be committed to providing a work climate that supports creative experiential learning.
  4. The field site must be able to provide qualified field supervisors.
  5. The field site must be able to allocate time for field supervisors to prepare and implement educational supervision for students.
  6. The field site should allow time for field supervisors to participate in meetings, training seminars and/or workshops offered by the School of Social Work.
  7. The field site should provide educational opportunities for students to participate in regular activities such as staff meetings, case presentations, conferences, and in-service training.
  8. The field site must be able to provide appropriate physical space and logistical arrangements for students such as office/desk space, supplies, telephone, support staff, etc., in order to carry out assigned tasks/responsibilities.
  9. The field site must treat all information about students in a confidential manner.
  10. The field site must be an equal opportunity/affirmative action institution and uphold the civil rights and liberties of all individuals in all aspects of the organization and the delivery of services.

If the field site fails to maintain an environment that supports a competent level of social work practice supported by social work values and ethics, it will no longer be used as a field education site for M.S.W. students.  Any other selection criterion not maintained in providing a quality educational experience for students may result in the removal of the site as an approved field placement setting.  To apply for reinstatement requires an evaluation by the Director of Field Education.

The field supervisor’s role is critical in facilitating a student’s learning and providing a positive educational experience for the student.  The field supervisor serves as a role model for professional social work practice and carries final responsibility for the student’s training in the field site.  The selection of the field supervisor is a responsibility of both the field site and the field director.  When the site identifies a potential field supervisor, it is the responsibility of the field director or his/her representative toensure that this person meets the selection criteria.

Prior to the start of field placement, field supervisors are invited to attend a field supervisors’ training.  There are separate training sessions for foundation field supervisors and concentration field supervisors.  Foundation field supervisors’ training emphasizes the generalist curriculum and educational objectives of the first year while the concentration field supervisors’ training emphasizes the community partnerships curriculum and educational objectives of the second year.  Both training sessions provide tools and information to aid and support all field supervisors in their teaching role.  The orientation sessions are the first of five training modules leading to a certification for field supervisors. The Schools of Social Work in the Atlanta and Athens areas collaborate on this training certificate program and require that all field supervisors complete the five training modules.  The four additional modules are offered during the course of the academic year.  At the end of the academic year, feedback is solicited from field supervisors about the M.S.W. program and the field component.  Feedback and suggestions are presented routinely by the field director to both faculty and the field advisory board to inform field education, M.S.W. curriculum, and the overall M.S.W. program.

The following criteria are used in selecting field supervisors in approved field placement sites:

  1. The field supervisor must be a graduate of an accredited school of social work. A master’s or bachelor’s level social work should have a least post-degree practice experience.  In exceptional cases, particularly in second-year community partnerships field placements, there may be an agency/organization that affords a valuable educational opportunity but no on-site social work supervision.  The available field supervisor may have another combination of training, work, and supervisory experience coupled with personal/professional standards and values consistent with those of social work.  These situations shall be evaluated on a case by case basis by the field director.
  2. The field supervisor must have a professional philosophy consistent with the values and ethics of the social work profession.
  3. The field supervisor must have been employed by the field site for at least six months.
  4. The field supervisor must demonstrate a commitment and ability to teach M.S.W. students and act in a supervisory role.
  5. The field supervisor must be committed to his/her own professional growth.
  6. The field supervisor must be willing to devote the time to:
    1. attend training seminars/meetings for field supervisors sponsored by the School of Social Work;
    2. provide field site orientation to the student, including an overview of agency policies and regulations that govern practice;
    3. assist the student in developing the individualized partnership plan that outlines the student’s learning outcomes to be achieved during the field placement by selecting appropriate student tasks and identifying methods for evaluating the student’s performance;
    4. provide regularly scheduled weekly supervision with the student (a minimum of one hour per week);
    5. schedule a field site visit with the faculty liaison each semester to discuss student progress, agency needs/concerns, and any revisions to the partnership plan;
    6. confer as needed (in addition to the scheduled site visits) with the faculty liaison; and
    7. evaluate the student’s performance through written evaluations and provide verbal feedback to the student on his/her professional performance in the field agency.

The field supervisor must be on-site and on-duty when a student is in field placement. During those periods when a field supervisor is not available, another qualified staff member must be available on-site to the student. In case of a temporary absence or vacation, the field supervisor or his/her immediate supervisor must arrange alternative supervisory plans for the student and inform the faculty liaison of the arrangements. If a field supervisor leaves the agency or is given another assignment, he/she must contact the faculty liaison to discuss alternative plans for the student.

Two-way communication is critical to the overall success of field education. At the end of the academic year, feedback is solicited from field supervisors about the BSW or MSW program and field component as appropriate. Such feedback and suggestions are presented routinely to both faculty and the field advisory board by the field director to inform field education, the curriculum, and other program areas.

Field Education Collaborative

Clark Atlanta University
Georgia State University
University of Georgia

Training Modules for New Field Supervisors

In 2000, the field directors from the Schools of Social Work at Clark Atlanta University, Georgia State University, and the University of Georgia formed the Field Education Collaborative. The purpose of this affiliation is to identify and engage in collaborative activities in order to strengthen the relationships between the schools and the field sites. The goal is to combine the three Schools’ resources in providing effective and efficient field education services and training opportunities to meet the needs of field supervisors and field sites within the metro Atlanta area and in North Georgia.

The Collaborative offers a joint Social Work Field Supervisors’ Training Program that is open to current field supervisors of social work students. Due to space limitations and arrangements among the schools, this program is by invitation only and is not open to other professionals in your agency or the general social work community.

Field supervisors are encouraged to complete the five-module training during this academic year. There is no fee for this 18-hour training program and CEUs will be given. Field supervisors will receive a certificate of attendance and will be considered a certified field supervisor for social work students upon completion of all five modules. All four schools require that field supervisors complete the modules. If you are unable to complete the training this year, you will remain eligible to complete the training during the following academic year. Field supervisors who have completed the training state that it has been extremely helpful in their role as supervisors/educators.

All attendees must pre-register for each module. There is no registration at the door for any module. Brochures for the modules will be mailed approximately four weeks prior to the respective module date. If you do not receive a brochure, please contact your field director. If you have missed any training modules, please note the dates for this academic year. If you are unsure of what modules you still need to complete, contact Cindy Roberts at croberts@uga.edu. You only need to attend each module one time and modules cannot be repeated for CEU credit. Although each school will host the Module I orientation session, you only need to attend one orientation session (even if you are supervising social work students from multiple schools).

Competencies and Practice Behaviors

Individualized Partnership Plans (IPP)

Student Performance Evaluations

The field supervisor’s role is critical in facilitating a student’s learning and providing a positive educational experience for the student.  The field supervisor serves as a role model for professional social work practice and carries final responsibility for the student’s professional training at the field site.  The professional relationship between the field supervisor and the student provides the foundation for the student’s performance in field in supporting the mission and work of the field agency/organization. The partnerships forged between the School and the community agencies/organizations are operationalized through defined roles and responsibilities of these two individuals in the context of field education.  It is expected that both the student and the field supervisor will engage in achieving the educational needs of the student in tandem with meeting the needs of the agency/organization.

Prior to the start of field placement, new field supervisors are required to attend a field supervisors’ orientation.  This orientation session provides tools and information to aid and support all field supervisors in their teaching role.  The orientation session is the first of five training modules leading to a certification for field supervisors.  The Schools of Social Work at Georgia State University, Clark Atlanta University, and University of Georgia collaborate on this training certification program and require that all field supervisors complete the five training modules.  The four additional modules are offered during the course of the academic year.

In the role of the student’s on-site supervisor, teacher, and mentor, the field supervisor agrees to fulfill the following responsibilities:

  1. Attend field supervisors’ orientation and training programs;
  2. Become familiar with, and adhere to, both the Agency and School policies and procedures guiding the field placement experience;
  3. Provide agency/organization orientation to student;
  4. Assist the student in the preparation of a learning contract that requires the selection of appropriate task assignments and methods of evaluating the student;
  5. Provide a minimum of 1 hour/week of formal supervision with the student;
  6. Participate in agency-based meetings with the faculty liaison on a routine basis and as needed;
  7.  Evaluate the student’s performance through written evaluations and verbal feedback provided to the student, and assign a field placement grade;
  8. Maintain the integrity of the field placement experience; and
  9. Notify the faculty liaison of any concerns or problems related to student performance and/or agency policies related to field responsibilities as soon as they become evident.

The field supervisor must be on-site and on-duty when a student is in field placement.  During those periods when the field supervisor is not available, another qualified staff member must be available on-site to the student.  In case of a temporary absence or vacation, the field supervisor or his/her agency supervisor must arrange alternative supervisory plans for the student.  The faculty liaison must be informed of the alternative arrangements.  If a field supervisor leaves the agency or is given another assignment, he/she must contact the faculty liaison to discuss alternative plans for the student.

Guidelines for use of Task Supervision

There may be learning opportunities for a student at a field site that are beyond the scope of the field supervisor’s responsibilities and/or expertise.  A task or project, related to the learning outcomes as set forth in the individualized partnership plan, may be assigned to the student by the field supervisor.  Another staff person may provide supervision for this task/project.  This task supervisor must provide written and/or oral feedback on the student’s performance to the field supervisor, who is the responsible party for providing weekly supervision and completing the written evaluations.  Task supervision is provided to the student in addition to the weekly supervision by the primary field supervisor.  The field supervisor remains responsible for overall supervision and administration of the student’s field placement experience.

Supervisory relationship
The relationship with the field supervisor is significant to the outcome of the field education experience. The field supervisor is the agency person to whom a student is directly responsible. The supervisor is there to support and guide the student, facilitate learning, and evaluate the student’s performance. If any questions, dissatisfactions, concerns, problems, etc. arise, the student must take initiative to talk to his/her field supervisor. It is not unusual at the beginning of the field placement for the student to have anxiety in approaching the field supervisor. This is a new situation and a new relationship; therefore the student may be unsure of how to proceed. The relationship will develop and change as the student and supervisor get to know one another and adjust to their respective intern and teacher roles. Gradually, the student will feel more comfortable and take on more responsibility in maintaining open and ongoing communication with the field supervisor.
The effectiveness of field learning is largely determined by student participation.  As an adult learner, the student is responsible for creating his/her learning environment. The student needs to be an active learner—to question, to synthesize, to analyze, to conceptualize, and to develop a sense of ownership in the field experience. Being an active learner includes developing the individualized partnership plan, creating personalized learning outcomes and appropriate tasks, monitoring and evaluating practice, confronting personal biases/prejudices, and assessing one’s professional development as a social worker. It also means preparing an agenda for and being actively involved in the weekly supervisory conferences. Most importantly, the student must develop the ability to receive constructive criticism within the context of increasing one’s competence as a social worker. Feedback that is specific and focuses on something the student can change is a major factor affecting professional growth.

Professional behavior
The field placement site is equivalent in many ways to a workplace. The student is expected to maintain regular working hours, be punctual, complete assignments in a responsible and timely manner, follow agency policies and procedures, dress appropriately, and generally conduct oneself in a professional manner. Professional, collegial relationships must be maintained at all times with all individuals in the workplace.
In addition, the student must maintain a professional demeanor that separates personal problems/issues from practice in order to engage successfully in one’s professional responsibilities to clients, the agency, and the community. It is expected that the student will inform clients of his/her intern status and maintain full disclosure of his/her intern role while conducting business on behalf of the field placement site. To understand and abide by the NASW Code of Ethics, which provides guidelines for professional conduct, is critical for the student in the field setting.
As a student, one has the privilege of remaining outside any internal conflicts or labor disputes that may occur in the workplace.  If a student is drawn into conflict, the student should immediately discuss the situation with the field supervisor and advise the faculty liaison.

Agency policies
Agencies vary in the policies and procedures that they expect students to follow.  Most agencies require students to attend an orientation session(s). Depending on the size of the agency, this orientation may or may not cover policies specifically geared to the provision of social work services. It is important for the student to meet with the field supervisor to obtain information about the agency’s operating procedures. If there is written documentation, the student should be furnished with a copy. Examples of operating procedures include policies on contact with clients outside the agency, transportation of clients, record keeping, personal safety and security, how to handle crisis situations, etc. The student should understand agency policies related to confidentiality, including the Health Insurance Portablity and Accountablity Act (HIPAA), privacy regulations, and always work within the values and ethics of the social work profession.  Standards for culturally competent practice should be followed as well.

Client relationships
The student is expected to be professional in all contacts with clients. It is strictly prohibited to date clients or engage in sexual relationships with clients.
Field sites may have different philosophies on the most appropriate methods of treating clients with which a student may or may not agree. While an intern can certainly have a difference of opinion, one may not proceed in treating clients on one’s own assumptions contrary to the expectations that the field site has of its own workers. Philosophical differences should be addressed in field supervision. If the differences relate to ethical issues where ethical behavior maybe compromised, and the student’s discussion with the field supervisor is unsatisfactory, the student should contact the faculty liaison.

Additional student guidelines and responsibilitiesB.S.W. and First Year M.S.W. students are responsible for completing a minimum of 400 field placement hours during the foundation year field education and second year M.S.W. students a minimum of 500 field placement hours required.

  1. Students are expected to have regular attendance at the field site and in seminar. Students may not be absent from the field integrative seminar in order to fulfill field site requirements.
  2. Students must make up loss time due to field site closings, religious holidays, sickness or any emergency. Students are not expected to report to the field site on Georgia State University holiday closings.
  3. Students must continue their field placement until the end of each semester, even if the requisite number of hours have been met prior to the end of the semester.
  4. Students are required to maintain professional confidentiality in all of their activities. Field site material used for class assignments should be fully disguised. Audio tapes and videotapes should not be used without the written consent of the field site and the client.
  5. Students may have a paper(s)/project(s) assigned by a faculty member (outside of the field education course) that require using the field experience in completing the assignment. In this situation, the student must discuss the assignment with his/her field supervisor and seek written permission when necessary in order to ensure that clients are not harmed, confidentiality is not breached, agency tasks are not compromised, and agency protocol is followed.
  6. When there is no social work supervision at a field site, the student must agree to special supervision arrangements set forth by the faculty liaison.
  7. As stated in the School of Social Work’s Student Handbook:
    The School of Social Work acknowledges and appreciates the obligations students have to employers and/or families. However, the school cannot exempt students from the requirements of the program because of these obligations.  Furthermore, all field placements cannot necessarily be arranged for weekends or evenings for students whose occupational, family or other obligations make it difficult to conform to standard field placement requirements. Students are encouraged early on to make arrangements with whomever necessary before enrolling in the program.
The individualized partnership plan (IPP) is a learning contract that provides a framework for the student’s time and professional contributions at the field placement site as well as for the student/field supervisor relationship. The student’s field placement tasks are outlined in this document. The IPP is completed during the initial weeks of field placement and is subject to approval by the faculty liaison to ensure compliance with educational objectives.  The learning outcomes are broad enough to encompass learning opportunities in diverse settings.

The individualized partnership plan has multiple purposes.  It creates:

  • a linkage between social work practice and learning outcomes
  • opportunities for observation and retrieval of practice behavior
  • a linkage between social work practice and professional knowledge/skills
  • a linkage between social work practice and current research
  • opportunities for evaluation of practice behavior
  • opportunities to identify learning tasks/activities specific to a field site’s needs/interests
  • opportunities to identify future planning needs for the student and the field site
  • structure for the student’s time in field placement

INSTRUCTIONS FOR CREATING THE IPP

  1. The IPP should be developed jointly by the field supervisor and the student. It is the student’s responsibility to submit the completed IPP to the faculty liaison by the due date. Once the faculty liaison has approved the IPP, the student should maintain a copy of this document and provide a signed copy to the field supervisor.
  2. In developing tasks to meet educational objectives/learning outcomes choose “active” not passive verbs (e.g., create, develop, facilitate, conduct, prepare, assess, plan).  The learning objectives address application and demonstration of knowledge, values, and skills. “Reading” or “reviewing” material may be required by the student in preparation for a task, not as end results.
  3. One task may involve multiple steps and, therefore, address more than one learning objective.
  4. When considering student tasks, think about the possibilities – not just the realities of a daily routine. For a field supervisor, think about what tasks or projects are on your “wish list” if you just had more time. For example, following-up with clients, facilitating a group, developing a new partnership, expanding a program, recruiting and training volunteers.
  5. Use the IPP as a working document as part of supervision to ensure tasks are being met. Both the student and the field supervisor should use the IPP to address issues and challenges in the process of completing a task.